Growth Kinetics of Wildlife E. coli Isolates in Soil and Water
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Bacteria are the major cause of surface water contamination in the United States. US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) uses the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process to regulate the E. coli loads from fecal sources in a watershed. Different point and non-point sources can contribute to the fecal contamination of a waterbody including municipal and on-site wastewater treatment plants, livestock, birds, and wildlife. Unfortunately, wildlife sources in many rural watersheds are poorly characterized. E. coli is also known to persist in waterbodies when no known fecal sources are present. In this study, E. coli from wildlife fecal material was enumerated. It was found that E. coli concentrations varied with the season the fecal samples were collected. When studying the fate of E. coli under different environmental factors, no growth was observed in soil at 4% moisture content and in water at 10 degrees C. The highest E. coli growth was recorded in water at 30 degrees C. It can be seen from these results that there was variation in the fate of E. coli under different environmental conditions. The fate of E. coli in the environment is a complex process and is influenced by many factors and their interactions, making it difficult to predict. The findings from this study along with additional studies can be used to improve the accuracy of model predictions to estimate the E. coli loads in watersheds.
Gallagher, Meghan (2012). Growth Kinetics of Wildlife E. coli Isolates in Soil and Water. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from